One day, I stood there in the bar and became increasingly irritated. I, a devoted, passionate music lover since childhood did not recognize what I heard, had not even an educated guess to come by.
I heard one, two, three, four songs ... and I thought I would soon get a name to the music. It was the same artist who sang and it was in the musical tradition now known as Americana. But in the end I gave up and asked the bartender what it was he played. It was so good. I needed to know.
- It's me, he said.
- You ?!
- Yes, me, it's my album, but it is not published ...
After that I became friends with Jesper Willaume, but I am not disqualified when I pay tribute to his music. I discovered his songs before I knew he wrote them.
The album is called "This Year The Summer Will Be Long", was recorded in 2001, was held due to record label hassles, but now, 14 years later, about to be released and finally become accessible to all.
As for so many others, all things began with The Beatles for Jesper Willaume. But paired with the best of what America has to offer. He traveled around the country in his early 20s and came via a broken car engine to remain in Leadville, Colorado, for three years.
It was like swallowing a jukebox: CSNY, Joe Walsh, The Band, Little Feat, Ry Cooder, Jackson Browne, The Grateful Dead, Waylon Jennings, Big Star and many more with them, was taken up in his DNA. Later came influences such as Jayhawks and Wilco.
Add his personal character to these influences and good music is the result.
Jesper is on the album “This Year The Summer Will Be Long” joined by Tommy Cassemar, bass, Ola Gustafsson, guitar, Pelle Alsing, drums, David Nyström, keyboards and Jenny Schyttberg, vocals.
- Tommy Cassemar heard me play and sing when I was a sound engineer at one of his gigs. He thought my songs were so good that they had to be heard by an audience. Tommy was joined by Pelle Alsing and Ola Gustafsson to begin recording... It was a fast and efficient recording, with great atmosphere and lust, says Jesper.
When the record company got into financial insolvency, the release of the record was held up for years, leaving Jesper close to giving up his plans for a recording career. It did not mean that he stopped writing songs, on the contrary, the need to express himself in words and music are just a bit weaker than the need to breathe, today he has upwards of 250 songs to choose from, but to release the music ended up in the back seat. Jesper instead made a career in the restaurant industry. And years passed...
- I sat alone with my guitar and sang to an imaginary audience. The dream I possessed since the age of 7 were put aside. But in 2011 Tommy Cassemar got in touch and told me that he and Pelle Alsing longed to have a band together. They did not, however, have any songs and remembered how much they had liked my music ... We met and began working together right where we left off last time, and during this period I wrote nearly 50 new songs.
The band was named Down Harrison and besides, Jesper, Tommy and Pelle, includes Michael Wedberg on guitar and keyboards. Ola Gustafsson's not in the band, but participates on the album.
- He is our constant guest and a dear friend. Every piece falls into the right place with his presence, his guitar playing is fantastic and gives the music the glimmer and glitter it urges for, says Jesper.
It is still americana, with relationship to bands like Jayhawks and Wilco, but also Jespers boyhood hero George Harrison is a clear influence. Music with deep roots, which still are able to surprise.
- I am looking for a tickle from a tone, or a word that is unexpected, outside the norm, I do not mean outside the norm in the sense of being complicated, but like the small wonders that I felt when I first heard Bowie's "Life on Mars", The Beatles' “A Day in the Life”, Neil Young’s "For the Turnstiles", or The Band's "It Makes No Difference"...
It has been a long wait - but in return, these two albums at the same time: a double debut in 2015. Jesper Willaume’s "This Year The Summer Will Be Long" released on March 14th and Down Harrison's eponymous album released on March 28th.
Tore S Börjesson, journalist and author